Grace Under Pressure
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Today is Professional Secretaries Day in the United States and Canada. In offices, supervisors have the opportunity to express their appreciation for the person who often meets the deadlines without the glory.
The office assistant is often on the front line. He or she handles the angry caller, the frustrated client, the insistent salesperson, before the boss does. It requires grace and wisdom to deal with such situations effectively. How does one remain cheerful, calm, and creative?
For me, the answer was systematic prayer. One summer I worked in an office of 111 attorneys. As their secretaries went on vacation, I would fill in. I was expected to fit in immediately to the rhythm of each particular lawyer. They were all different. I was young and inexperienced - but with a sincere desire to be of service. My prayer was based on knowing that God has already worked out any solution we seek. This prayer is more the expressing of divine goodness and grace than the mere desire for them. It's turning to God daily to improve the tone of thought.
I found I shouldn't wait until problems popped up before praying. I'd begin each day by reading the Bible on my commuter train. Together with the Bible, I'd read "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy - the Christian Science textbook. I'd look for how passages I read related to situations at work. I'd pray for the community, that others might feel God's love and His presence.
But my praying didn't end with the train ride. At lunch, I ate by a beautiful fountain. The constancy of the fountain represented to me the constant outpouring of inspiration from God. I thought of each drop of water as symbolizing a useful thought from God, the divine Mind, fulfilling its purpose completely. Because we are in and of God, we reflect Him spiritually, through countless perfect thoughts and actions.
Prayer proved trustworthy in helping me know how to meet demands with grace and poise - not because I had superior secretarial skills but because I found that God answered every prayer.
The most special experience of that summer happened when an impossible situation was resolved through prayer and God's power. I started working for a junior attorney only a year out of law school. He arrived late the first morning and suddenly rushed out of his office, panic-stricken. In 30 minutes, two parties consummating an airport merger were to arrive. He'd forgotten all about it! In anguish, he rattled off all that was needed. There was no way, he bemoaned (more to himself than to me), that he could be ready in time. A doomed career was flashing in front of his eyes.
I felt compassion for him. I literally closed my eyes and prayed. The immediate answer was for me to be totally calm. God is divine Love - not limited by time or circumstance. God is divine Mind, never bewildered. If I felt Christian love for this man, and loved his project as representing a right idea of divine Mind, whatever was needed would be provided.
Gently but firmly, I asked him exactly what documents were lacking. Inspiration guided me to suggest he dictate one item right then; I'd type as he talked. Then he could gather the other information while I edited and retyped a clean copy (this was pre-word-processor days).
That's precisely what we did. He composed his thoughts, dictating with a clarity I'd come to associate with much more experienced partners. In less than 10 minutes he'd dictated the entire piece and thought of someone to help him with the rest. Right on time, he appeared with clients in tow. I handed him the finished paperwork. An hour later he returned, all smiles. The meeting had gone smoothly. No one knew he'd been unprepared a half-hour before.
Mrs. Eddy once gave a sermon in which she shared that "the genius of Christianity is works more than words; a calm and steadfast communion with God ..." ("Christian Healing," Pg. 2). Every employee can experience something of this promise, and help other people. And whatever country you read this in, you can express gratitude for secretaries who reflect the grace of God.
This blessing of St. Paul from First Corinthians 1:4 seems to catch the spirit: "I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ."